In my previous post, I talked about two different setup options for the NATO player for the scenario, “Southern Thrust” in LnLP’s brigade level WW3 game, “Dawn’s Early Light”. In this article, I’d like to look at the Soviet setup.
The Soviets get a big advantage here since they set up after the NATO player. Therefore, a smart Soviet player is going to need to watch carefully how the NATO player splits his forces in order to find a weakness and exploit it.
In the previous article, I gave an example of a static “forward defense” setup for NATO that probably won’t work. If the NATO player decides for this kind of setup, the Soviet player can easily just split his forces evenly and drive for Eisenbach on the right and the three cities on the left.
The Soviet player sends the 33rd Motorized Rifle Division down on the left. They should have the Canadians either defeated or badly hurt by the afternoon of Day 1. After that, it’s a simple matter of splitting up your brigades into two separate forces. One force should rush for the cities. You’ll probably take Jungweiler without much of a fight and then grab Schneiderberg and Mittelbaum without much resistance. The other Soviet brigade should be sent down towards the southwest to cut off NATO reinforcements entering the board. A more cautious Soviet player may want to keep a couple of token units from the 33rd MRD up near Stahlhammer AFB just to protect it, but it’s probably not even necessary.
The 1st Guards Tank Division to the east can easily outmaneuver the US armor elements. Simply send a brigade or two to tie up the Americans while the rest of your armor slips around them and heads towards Eisenbach. The Soviet player can also send some reinforcements over the bridge in the center of the map just to help out the 33 MRD in the unlikely event that it runs into trouble or delays in taking out the Canadians. It might be worth sending a couple of units down towards A17 where the NATO player can send in reinforcements.
With this kind of approach, it’s highly likely the Soviets will be able to win. Use your artillery assets to take out Eisenbach and the other cities and if you get the 2nd Airborne, land them into any newly captured cities, which frees up your other units to attack any stubbornly-defended NATO cities.
Let’s look at another possible NATO setup and some possible moves for the Soviets.
The above NATO setup creates considerable problems for the Soviet player. Although reaching the objectives is going to be much easier this time, there are some careful NATO traps set for the Soviets. Furthermore, NATO basically has control over the bridge in the center of the map, which makes it harder for the Warsaw Pact units to help each other out, while making it easier for NATO to do the same.
With the standard two-pronged attack as outlined above, the Soviet player, unless he is very lucky, will probably not take 3 of 4 cities on the left flank. NATO’s tighter defensive positions around Jungweiler, Schneiderberg and Mittelbaum probably mean that the 33MRD will need to commit all of its brigades to taking thos cities. This means that NATO reinforcements will enter the map from the southwest with no resistance and then damage the 33MRD beyond repair.
On the right flank, things don’t look so rosy either. Sure, the Soviet player will get forces down to Eisenbach easily and probably even take the city. However, the NATO player will probably send his full-strength armor units down to slaughter the 1GDT tanks and men as they assault on the city. There’s a very good chance that the Americans will re-take the city at some point after inflicting some horrifying losses on the Russians.
The ideal approach for the Soviets here may be to simply abandon one of the flanks, set up a defensive force around Stahlhammer AFB and put the combined strength of the 33 MRD and 1GDT together for one big push. Personally, I would recommend hitting the right flank and going for Eisenbach. The left flank with the forest and rough hexes are slow-moving and the units are hemmed in between the mountains and the edge of the board. The right flank near Eisenbach has plenty of open ground for maneuver.
In this situation, the 1GDT goes directly for the tanks of the US 5th while the 33MRD goes straight for Eisenbach. The 1st Guards Tank will probably defeat the US armor, while the Canadians will probably rush straight east to defend the bridge crossing hexes or even Eisenbach itself. Either way, things work well for the Russians. Eisenbach cannot be held under an assault by a full division. The US 5th will be tied up by the entire 1st Guards Tank Division and, if the Soviets can manage to crush the US armor quickly enough, they can rush the survivors over the bridge to take the now-undefended cities to the west.
The NATO player could counter this kind of approach a few different ways. A savvy US player will see the Soviet trap after setup and withdraw the US 5th tanks east across the river and defend the crossing. The Canadians could let the 33MRD take Eisenbach and focus all their defense efforts on the bridges. A particularly daring NATO player can send NATO reinforcements up towards Stahlhammer AFB to try and steal it from under the Soviets’ noses and garner a victory point.
As you can see from this article and the previous one, using different setup options in DEL and abandoning the tired static defense/standard attack patterns makes the game much more interesting for both players. Good players of DEL will immediately recognize the importance of controlling the bridges on the map and throwing the opponent off guard by taking some gambles during setup. Of course, selecting and using assets, having your different forces work together, and determining where and how to commit reinforcements are other important aspects of the game and I’ll be covering these in future articles.